Friday, September 23, 2011

Health Risks Associated with Toxic Mold

Mold is considered a 4-letter word in the building industry. Especially now, with the summer floods and seasonal hurricanes, the moist environment is a perfect breeding ground for this organism.

Mold is a fungus that thrives in warm, damp and humid conditions with an ample food source; spreading and reproducing by making spores. There are hundreds of thousands of living species of fungi in the environment, both outdoors and in, and are considered part of the natural ecosystem -- some which are beneficial to mankind.

Mold can be found everywhere, but the inhalation of spores from some mold may cause allergies or other health related problems. Some molds are even considered toxic and can be very harmful to people when exposed, especially over a long period of time.

Black Mold, also known as Stachybotrys Chartarum, is a greenish-black fungi which likes to grow in straw, hay, web leaves, drywall, carpet, wall paper, fiber-board, ceiling tiles, thermal insulation and other types of high-cellulose materials. There are many different species of black mold, however, all black molds are not necessarily Stachybotrys. There are non-toxic black molds, as well.

Testing for the toxic black mold can only be accurately performed by an accredited laboratory, which can be expensive. The CDC's website suggests that if you are seeing or smelling mold, or having allergies associated with mold, then no matter what type of mold is present it needs to be removed. 

The 10 most common health risks associated with toxic mold are:
1. pulmonary hemorrhage or pulmonary hemosiderosis (primarily in infants)
2. nose bleeds
3. immune system suppression (resulting in increasing numbers of infections)
4. hair loss
5. dermatitis
6. chronic fatigue
7. psychological depression
8. diarrhea
9. sore throats
10. headaches and other flu-like symptoms

Most smaller areas of mold can be cleaned up with a bleach solution. However, if the area is more than 10 square feet, the CDC website suggests consulting the the EPA's "Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings."

Sources: CDC Website, | EPA Website,  |  The Mold Blog website,

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